Monday, February 28


Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Barcelona this weekend! We took a 3 hour train ride Thursday evening that was very pleasant: big seats, lots of room, movies. We got to Barcelona and split a taxi ride to the hostel. I went with 3 girls and 3 guys from my program. The guys wanted to couch surf, but ended up getting a hostel as well. Anyway, our hostel was awesome! Mambo Tango Youth Hostel, right in the middle of the city. We were in a room with 9 bunk beds and had really nice roommates while we were there. Igor, the first receptionist we met was great. He made us a free dinner and was super nice and fun. The downstairs of the hostel had a nice lounge area with computers, a tv with free movies, couches, tables, games and a kitchen for us to use. This was my first experience in a youth hostel, and I have to say, it was a perfect one! The showers were hot and clean, the people were nice, the food was cheap, and the atmosphere was so much fun with lots of college kids! 

That first night, we walked around and got hot chocolate and churros, our favorite! We were all a bit tired so we didn't stay out to late. 

Ok, before I go on I have to say, Barcelona was a nice city but do I want to visit again? Probably not. Everyone told me to watch out for pick-pocketers before I left, which I did, but that wasn't the biggest problem we had. Our group of girls was constantly harassed by Barcelona men. Constantly. The second we would walk out of the hostel, men would yell things at us, or ask for kisses when we walked by. Even in the restaurants they would! We went to a pita place and the guy behind the counter kept calling us 'baby' and trying to get us to buy beer. So gross. In Barcelona, people were selling things all over the streets, especially beer. One guy asked if we wanted to buy 'sexy beer' and then told us we were hot in an awful English translation. We felt so gross. The second night we went out, we literally screamed 'no' at them instead of just walking by because in Barcelona, if you don't say anything, then continue to follow you and at times try to grab you. I'm telling you, it was so awful. Barcelona, you need to control your men. Its gross and unappealing. I like the southern gentlemen type much better. 

Besides the constant harassment, everything turned out OK. On Friday, we visited the Barcelona Cathedral, the Sagrada Familia and the Gaudi park. The unfinished Sagrada Familia is the cathedral that Gaudi designed and it is absolutely breathtaking. It is supposed to be finished in 2026, the centennial of Gaudi's death. After the Cathedral, we metro-ed over to his park. AH, the park. It was sooo awesome. It was less grassy fields and nature than it was awesome architecture, minute details, winding pathways and beautiful mosaics. It is the Disney World of parks. We brought food with us and had a nice little picnic in the park- and sangria. My favorite thing though was all the music. Artists were playing all throughout the park. (For any percussionists reading this, there were hang drums everywhere! I saw about 5 or 6 being played in Barcelona. It took all of my strength not to run up and start playing with them.) Then we went back to the hostel for a bit and then went out again. That night we found some decent bars to drink in and found an AMAZING vegetarian pita place called Moaz. Probably the best part of our night. 

On Saturday, us girls went to the Barcelona Chocolate museum!! It was awesome. The ticket was a bar of chocolate. Barcelona has a chocolate museum because they were the first city to have a chocolate producing factory. We learned all out the cocao fruit and how the use of chocolate has developed. In the beginning, the Mayans and the Aztecs used it for rituals and sacrificial purposes. It was more of a dark, spicy drink. It wasn't until Cortés and the Europeans came over when chocolate became sweet and consumed as a pleasure drink. The museum also had a chocolate school which displayed amazing chocolate sculptures all over the museum. They were even better than all those Food Network challenges!

After that we had lunch in the park again. What we would do for cheap food was go to a supermercat and buy stuff for sandwiches: warm french bread, cheese, salami and a dessert. We would literally eat lunch for about 2 euros a person. So yummy! Also, I have fallen in love with orange Fanta here! It is so much better here than in the States. Its almost like fresh OJ with some bubbly water. That night, we just hung out in the hostel with other people who were staying there. We watched a movie, played games and drank wine. Oh, and made french bread pizza!

On Sunday, we went on a free walking tour around the old Gothic city. It was nice to learn little history tidbits about the city. There was a taxidermy shop we passed by that Dalí would go to regularly to order rhino heads, elephants parts and once, he ordered 200,000 ants! Interesting fellow. We saw some old Roman ruins as well. They still have 3 standing pillars from the original Roman temple of Barcelona. 

After our last lunch in Barcelona, we headed to the station! All in all great trip. When we returned to Valencia it felt like we were home again. No men were being rude to us and people were speaking Spanish again (because in Barcelona they speak Catalan and lots of English). Catalan is a mix between French and Spain and I don't understand a lick of it. 

When we got back, Kara and I got on a bus to ride home since it was kinda of late. Well low and behold, this bus wasn't going to finish the full circle and we got dropped off in the middle of nowhere. I don't know why or how we missed this simple little fact, but we got totally stranded, but we turned out ok. I had some friends numbers that I had met in Valencia but we were able to flag a cab down and get home safely. You live and you learn, right?? 

Sorry for the lack of pictures. This is midterm week and I need to get to studying! Whoever told me that classes over here are going to be easier can bite their tongue. I'm dying and only taking 4 classes! Wish me luck for this week! Hasta luego. 

Sunday, February 20


So nothing much happened this week, just a normal week in Spain. Had a full week of classes and I was loaded with homework, papers and presentations. Lucky, I pulled through with flying colors and made it to the weekend! We went to the Oceanográfic here in Valencia. It is an aquarium that is in the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. The main goal of the aquarium is to surrender boundaries so that you feel like you are in the water/really close to the animals. The highlights were: beluga whales, dolphins, and 2 long water tunnels. I saw amazing shark and fish species that I had never seen before. My favorite was the sunfish.

Last night, I went out with some of my new Spanish friends. They all go to the University of Valencia here and took me out on the town, Spanish style. It was fun! Got to go salsa dancing again and then we went to the beach. It reminded me of home because that's exactly what we do, too.

I am heading to Barcelona next weekend! Just bought my train tickets. We are going with a small group of friends from the program for 3 days. It was a spur of the moment trip, but it is going to be so much fun. Then we have midterms the week after. Can you believe it?? I have officially been in Spain a month and I never want to go home! I am already looking for internships in Spain for my Gap year. =)

Sunday, February 13

More Pictures

Just to let you know, Kara and I have a Shutterfly website up so that we can have a joint photo album. We will be updating everything today. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12

Highly anticipated blog update

Sorry about the absence of posts. I have been sick this week and have had lots of school work. I had my first quiz, a presentation on 'The Night Face Up' (a great short story), my práctica, an art history paper and my intercambio AND I was trying to get rid of a nasty little cold. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and I have knocked the cold away by sleeping a lot and eating 4-5 oranges a day. Ok where did I leave off last time...

Last weekend my amigas and I went to go get some famous Spanish hot chocolate! The definition for hot chocolate here is pretty much melted chocolate in a cup. Very yummy with some fresh churros which are just long donut sticks. That was amazing.We went to Valencia's best chocolate store called Valor. We all got a sample of the 5 most popular drinks- white chocolate, cold hot chocolate, Spanish hot chocolate and a dark hot chocolate.

You had to eat them with a spoon....or your churros....

Ok, so after the crazy sugar high we were on, we decided to go to the beach. My first time seeing the Mediterranean Sea! It is gorgeous. The beach is really big but I have a feeling that it is going to look really small when all of Valencia is there when it gets warmer. It was so nice to smell the ocean breeze and to see all the sail boats in the water.  We brought our bocadillos with us and had a nice little picnic on the beach and then walked on the pier that lies between the beach and the marina and port. 

Next, my intercambio. So I was a little nervous about meeting my intercambio. You never know what you are going to get...and I really had no idea what was in store for me....let's just say that it didn't work out. It was the longest hour of my life. I believe that his intentions were a bit different from mine, to say the least. He didn't go to school or have a job...he quit computer science because there weren't enough girls in the program so now he is pursuing acting. I told him that my Dad had gone to Google before and his eyes lit up and he asked me to go get another beer with him that, no thanks. He then continued to ask about how much I was enjoying drinking in Spain and telling me about all the bars and clubs to go to with him. He was very persistent so I had to think on my feet, literally. I kind of just stood up and told him that I needed to get back to school for a class. He walked over to try and give me besos (the kisses on the cheeks) but I really didn't want him that close to my face so I ran across the street, just barely getting hit by a car and walked around the corner.....intercambio was unsuccessful. Luckily, I can change. P.S. he wouldn't let me speak Spanish to him because he wanted to practice his English so he could go to America and meet ladies....en serio?

My práctica went great! I am teaching at a very rich, private Catholic school. I go there 2/3 times a week and take small groups of 3 people out of class at a time and help them with their English. It is really fun and interesting. All the girls ask me about the guys in America and Los Angeles and all the boys talk about soccer. Typical 15 year olds I guess. 

I had an experience with a new fruit this week! My madre walked into my room with a plate, a spoon and what looked like a tomato. I looked at her funny and she told me it was a kaki, a fruit! You turn it upside down, cut it down the middle and scoop out the insides. Let me tell you, this was the best thing I have ever tasted. It looked like the inside of a pumpkin with all the fibers but the flesh was almost like applesauce. So amazing! She said it was a native fruit of Valencia but it was only grown during a small period of time. Here it is.

What else....I went to a concert last night! It was the Valencia Orchestra at the Palau de Música. They played  Weber, Tchaikovsky and Hector Berlioz, some of my favorite composers. The guest violinist blew me away, Arabella Steinbacher. The conductor was John Nelson who was phenomenal as well. The lady at the ticket booth gave me an amazing seat, right in the middle of the first balcony. 20 euros well spent....Before the concert, we had a cooking class where we learned how to make some paella Valenciano and arroz mariscos negro. Paella Valenciano has chicken and rabbit in it and the Arroz Mariscos Negro is a black rice dish with little squids. The dish is turns black because you add squid ink which looks weird but doesn't have a taste to it. Both were mouth watering. We also made sangria and horchata flan! Horchata is a typical Valencian drink made from a tiger nut. It has a good, refreshing, sweet flavor to it. I took notes and they gave us recipes so I will make a Spain meal for everyone! Sans bunny....

Well I think that is about it here. We are going to go get some Valencia jerseys today because there is a big game on Tuesday that we are going to, The Champions League. One of the professors at the school was a fútbol player for Valencia but quit because his true passion is medieval Spanish history. He got discounted tickets for the students in our program and after the game, we get to go on the field and meet the players! Our madre is so jealous of us. It was be great! 

OH! Last thing, I swear. I was doing homework the other day and heard an awful noise outside my window. A horrific squealing. I looked out my window and a guy was walking his pet pig on a leash. Apparently people have pigs as pets here? I snapped a stalker shot.

¡Hasta Luego!

Thursday, February 3

Interesting things you learn in Spanish class

In my Spanish Art history class, our professor is a dirty old man. We talk about the Romans, artists, sex, drugs, museums, etc. With all of these topics, you would think that we would never run out of things to talk about. Well today, we talked about several other things.....

1. The differences between animal noises in different countries. Did you know that frogs go crac crac in Spain? And roosters go kikiriki! Dogs go guau. Birds pío pío.

2. On a more serious note, we learned about the Roman aqueducts today. The most famous one is in Segovia. 

Then our profesor told us that this was the only interesting thing to see in Segovia. And the cerdobabies. What are cerdobabies? Conchinillos....

Baby pigs! They eat Piglet in Segovia....grossssssss!!! Spanish people really like to 'see' their food. When you buy a chicken at the store, its a damn chicken and they chop it up in front of you. Same with pigs, rabbits, frogs, etc. It is always an interesting trip to the Mercadona. 

Also, I just got my intercambio. An intercambio is a way for Spanish and American students to intermingle. If you participate in the program you can chose a girl or boy and you list your hobbies. I wrote down that I wanted a girl because I wanted to actually learn something but of course, out of ALL my friends, I was the one who got a boy. Seriously? Kara told me that someone has to take one for the team. And maybe he has cute friends for them. Oh well, that's Monday's news so stay updated! We are getting coffee after classes but if he's weird, I might be ordering wine. I feel like its a blind date or something so I am trying to expect the worse.....thinkin' positive......

Wednesday, February 2

Haunted from the States

I apologize if I offend anyone in this post, but it is my blog.

I was watching the Spanish news the other night about the Egyptian crisis and they were showing clips from other news stations around the world. Guess what news station that they used from USA? Fox News. No wonder they all hate Americans over here. Preceding the Fox News clip was a bit from BBC and NPR. Why, why Fox News?

On a lighter note. My favorite thing about American students here is that they still say 'like' in their sentences while they are speaking Spanish. Quoted from a girl in my class this morning, '¿Cuándo, like, tú dices una pregunta, like, hay un acento?' It has become such a habitual thing that they use it in a foreign language! At least say it in Spanish (como).

Hasta Luego.